The Internet is exploding with business opportunities and new platforms for brands and content. There are countless ways for businesses and creative people to monetize their dreams and ideas. To an outsider, the web looks like a massive mess of web clicks and shared memes (and it is) but to a team of digital natives like us, the formula for digital marketing success can be boiled down to 5 essential steps or phases that every business or brand must follow in order to take advantage of the marketing potential of the Digital Age.
5 Steps to Grow Your Digital Presence
Step 1 : Optimize Your Platform
First thing’s first; you need a place to stand in the sea of digital information. Your website and all associated platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, should be consistent and optimized for success. A good website is responsive and mobile-friendly since half of all web traffic comes from smartphones or mobile devices. It should communicate your brand and message clearly without much clutter. You need to know what keywords matter to your search visibility so they can be properly utilized on the site and structured into the data.
Of course, your platform is more than just your website. Not everyone likes to open a browsing app and visit your dot com. You need to have a Facebook Page for the people who prefer Facebook, as well as an account on all other major social content platforms; Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, and a few others depending on your business and industry. These are not just a list of friends and connections, they’re media channels for you to publish on. Each has its own eco-system and audience but if you want a large audience in today’s widespread web, you need to cast a broad net; which means having a consistent brand presence on multiple platforms.
Step 2 : Create Content
The Internet runs on content. That’s the reason we go there; to browse and consume content (and to communicate with one another). If you’re a business, you absolutely must be giving out content that educates the consumer on what you offer. Today’s consumer is doing his or her own research online before making any purchasing decisions. Therefore you must provide the education your customers are seeking. So what is content and how do I make some?
Content is anything someone can view, read, or listen to via digital channels. Images or “memes” that have bite sized chunks of information on them, blog articles with useful insights, videos that explain how to do something, or a podcast that explores a niche industry; all of these are consumable content on the web and businesses are using them to generate traffic, engagement, and leads every day. So make some! Create content for your potential customers… and do it quickly!
Step 3 : Distribute & Connect
Once you have content and a platform, it’s time to start the cycle of distribution. This means keeping a consistent content calendar and making sure you are posting that content to your platforms regularly for people to find and consume. Publish the blog post, share it to Facebook, Tweet it several times, and email it to your fans. A single piece of content can be used on multiple platforms and sometimes recycled and reused often. You can even use plugins and apps that automatically post your content to multiple places at once to save time and energy, although these often come with some styling and format drawbacks.
As you’re pumping out your brilliant content on multiple branded platforms, this is the time to engage your audience and connect with potential customers. As people comment on your content, reply. If people are talking about you, join the conversation. Reach out to people and say Thank You or Hello. Being friendly and authentic goes a long way with today’s consumer, who will respect you for taking the time to connect with them before asking for their money.
Step 4 : Amplify
Okay so you’ve got content rolling off your platform, you’re pushing it out to the far corners of the web, and you’re communicating with the people that are consuming it. The next step is to ratchet up the volume with paid amplification. Oh, you thought it was all free? Well, most of the marketing available online is free. However, if you want to compete on the open market, you have to pay to advertise. Fortunately today’s digital advertising options are less invasive and easy to measure (and much cheaper) than traditional modes of in-your-face advertising.
Google Adwords allows you to essentially buy targeted traffic with search-based adds that are only paid for on a pay-per-click basis, meaning you’re only paying for the traffic to your site. You can expand your content and social reach by boosting posts out to a highly targeted audience with Facebook’s ad platform, which also covers Instagram. You can run video commercials in front of YouTube clips too if you want to reach a particular audience in a particular way.
Some old school business types like to tell us that they trust the traditional mediums like magazine ads and television commercials more than social media ads. This is amusing, particularly since it’s five times the cost and you can’t count a single eyeball. You have no idea how many people actually saw or engaged the ad, just guesses and ballparks. But digital offers all the bean counting your bottom line desires from views to clicks to resulting purchases. Digital ads are a no-brainer to the savvy modern business owner and marketing professional.
Step 5 : Measure & Refine
Last, but certainly not least, is that golden goose we referenced; Measurement. The digital age is a treasure trove of data that can be very insightful if looked at in the right way. You can gauge the effectiveness of any marketing campaign with a range of metrics including the levels of traffic to your site, where they’re coming from, what they read with they get there, and what channels produce the most conversions, leads, or sales. You can also measure your social reach, user engagement, and the popularity of each post so you can decide what content to create next month.
The level of deep insight offered by Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and other measurement platforms is unparalleled in the old school marketing world. The ability to measure, review the results, and refine the strategy is essential to long term success in marketing and business in the Digital Age.
Ready to learn some specifics on how digital marketing can help your business bloom in today’s market?
Signal’s team of digital natives are plugged into these data currents daily, spinning engaging content and interactive media that people consume all over the world every day. We’ve got a few ideas you might like.